It's not "for families" at all

Posted 4.11.17

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | When I was a young man, one fashionable idea was that the family is the key to any society's success. "Family units" were considered a community's building blocks -- social organization seem to grow from this format, therefore all energies should go to protecting and encouraging "the family."

All legislation, too, was to pass this test. And today don't we still hear the mantra, "it's all for families" -- from politicians of every stripe?

Back then, of course, I was so much older than I am now, and back then I saw "the family" not as an essential, but rather as a nest of society's conceptual vipers. Old-fashioned and retrograde ideas seemed to be nourished within families. My frontal lobes were barely functioning at that age.

Believe me, I had few issues with my own family. My prejudices weren't personal. Raised with only sisters I became a bit of an individualist (and feminist), but I had a fine upbringing and retain a lot of warm and self-affirming memories. My parents believed in self-confidence as the key to everything, plus an attitude of "getting things done". My sisters and I did well in this environment.

Yet as I, individualist for sure, looked around, the family in general did not seem so positive. Prejudices and superstitions seemed nested within the core of families-in-general.

Today's chorus of "for families" which we hear everyday from politicians -- as if that phrase actually explained anything! -- still makes me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable, because the notion is today used to distract our attention from serious problems -- and away from the illegitimate beneficiaries of so much public policy, all so seamlessly adopted from the former Harper regime.

To demonstrate my youthful naiveté further, I saw the family as the building block of walls, not of communities, walls against progress, innovation, and creative thinking. I also saw most family business conducted by women. The patriarch had the final say, but women ran the family.

Curiously, their families sheltered that same patriarchy -- not to mention old-style religion, the subservience of women, racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, etc.

The family's morality seemed largely a rubber stamp of prevailing prejudices and fears, and each family had a strong sense of "family honour". While some societies took that to murderous extremes, we focused on prestige -- bigger homes, new cars, swimming pools, all proof of high morality.

That was how "for families" worked back then. Today, having survived co-creating my own family and, now, being the elder in a much-expanded family -- well, families now don't seem so bad.

It's all in what we do with the concept. Positive values and skills can be passed on, as well as negatives.

But spare us, oh leaders, from being used as your advertisements -- and as sand in the eyes of voters. All of you, politicians. stop using families as self-promotion! Stand on your own two feet.


Copyright © 2017 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/4.17